April is the month of engines! We’re not talking about Formula 1 or MotoGP, and we’re not even talking about spring – which by the way has officially arrived – and its customary trips out of town. Today we’re talking about engines in the context of our column “Anniversaries of the first patents”: an overview of the most famous and important patents registered throughout history.

You’re probably thinking, “What do engines have to do with that?” Well, you’ll see!


We’ll the skip the April Fools’ jokes and dive in with the first patent we’ll be looking at today. In 1826, the American inventor Samuel Morey invented, developed and patented the first internal combustion engine.

The invention took advantage of the vapours emitted by turpentine and ethanol, developing motive power from the elements’ combustion.


Let’s skip ahead to 1885, the year in which German-born engineer and entrepreneur Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler designed his prototype of the petrol engine.

Considered one of the fathers of the automotive industry, Daimler and his friend Maybach designed a prototype of a small petrol engine and developed a two-wheeled means of transport capable of harnessing the engine’s motive power, an impressive 2.5 HP.

The Daimler Reitrad-Einspur is considered the first motorbike (with petrol engine) in history.


Continuing with the theme of engine history, April is a big month!

One of Italy’s most iconic vehicles worldwide was born on 23 April 1946.

A company from Pontedera filed the patent that was destined to change the history of two-wheelers. In fact, the “motorbike with a rational complex of members and elements with a frame combined with mudguards and bonnet covering the entire mechanical part” was patented.

We’re talking about the legendary Piaggio Vespa.


We’ll end on a high note with two patents in a single date.

Still on the topic of engines, in 1769 the famous Scottish engineer James Watt filed a patent application in English for “Watt’s method for reducing steam and fuel in the steam engine”. This invention modified Newcomen’s steam engine, improving its performance and optimising the process.

The latest invention instead takes us away from engines, fuels and means of locomotion.

In 1961, Robert Noyce – the entrepreneur nicknamed “Mayor of Silicon Valley” and founder of Intel – invented, developed and filed a patent for the first integrated circuit: the essential component of every computer.

English translation and adaptation by Sarah Schneider

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels